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Baxter reaches consensus on Isle Drive construction plans

BAXTER — Plans for Baxter’s Isle Drive extension took a little more shape Tuesday as the council looked at cost estimates.

The future Isle Drive extension — from Glory Road to Highland Scenic Drive, also known as Crow Wing County Highway 48, is in south Baxter. Isle Drive goes past Walmart and Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Baxter Clinic.

Tuesday in a workshop session, council members looked at three options for the road layout and cost estimates.

■ Option 1 with two 4-foot bike lanes. The option uses a widened roadway and pavement markers to create bike lanes between the curb and vehicle lane. Future sidewalks would be included as private developments begin on the Isle Drive’s east side. Total cost: $43,895.

■ Option 2 provided a complete street with two 4-foot bike lanes and a 5-foot concrete sidewalk on the street’s east side. Total cost: $100,945.

■ Option 3 included a separate 12-foot paved multi-use trail on the street’s east side. In this option, the road wouldn’t include bike lanes and could be 8 feet narrower as bike traffic was directed to the paved trail, accommodating both bike and pedestrian traffic. Total cost: $44,475.

Other options included a 5-foot concrete sidewalk on the east side of Isle Drive from Highland Scenic to the Essentia Health clinic property. Cost was estimated at $57,050.

As for the street lighting, the city estimated costs of 400-watt fixtures similar to those on Knollwood Drive by Forestview Middle School of $70,000. The cost in kilowatt hours was estimated to be $2,587 per year for the 13 light fixtures.

Cost of a system with 143-watt LED fixtures was estimated to be $80,000 with reduced power costs paying back the LED light in about 5.5 years. The city estimated the cost to operate the more energy efficient LED lights at $787 per year, for a power cost savings of $1,800 per year.

The consensus of the council was to go with the Option 1 for the road design. By taking off outlets to allow holiday light decorations, the city expected to save about 25 percent.

Isle Drive is expected to become a well-traveled link as it provides a southern connection to the growing medical complex, both in future plans to add to Essentia Health’s Baxter campus and for Cuyuna Regional Medical Center to build on land it purchased. In addition, the Isle Drive extension can link people traveling from the southern side of the city to the retail such as Walmart, Costco and J.C. Penney among others.

Mayor Darrel Olson said it’s important to think about the future and the people who will be using this transportation corridor by vehicle, bike and as walking pedestrians.

The council consensus was to go with the first option and keep talking about sidewalk connections as the area develops.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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